Four pet industry businesses were honored with the Earth Hero Award from the Pet Sustainability Coalition, for their leadership in implementing the Flex Forward pet food and treat packaging collections pilot program.
Over the course of several months, the Flex Forward pilot program collected over 7,000 pounds - about 33,000 used bags - in a test of the 'return to retail' recycling model. The collected materials are being tested for suitability as recycled content in other pet products or new packaging.
As part of UnPacked21, the pet industry's first sustainable packaging event, a virtual celebration was held on February 23rd, 2021 to honor the Earth Hero award recipients and celebrate the completion of the first phase of the Flex Forward pilot. The Sustainable Packaging Soiree, hosted by Pet Sustainability Coalition Board of Advisors members Stephanie Volo (Chair) and Sarah Julian, with live music performed by Ashanti Floyd, "The Mad Violinist".
The Sustainability Packaging Soiree and Earth Hero awards event was held to honor the retailers and partners that helped the Flex Forward far exceed the collection goal of 5,000 pounds in just four months. The Earth Hero awards were issued this year to recognize the outstanding commitment these companies to a better future for pets, people and for the planet.
Earth Animal, a pet food brand, sponsored the pilot project, and provided strategy, guidance and leadership for the project. Accepting the award for Earth Animal was Michael Cody, Head of Digital Marketing and Sustainability at Earth Animal. "The coolest part of the program is that it is a collaboration between all these organizations. It has been an incredible experience," said Cody.
Pet Food Experts, a pet food distributor supporting independent retailers coast to coast, provided logistical support. The company distributed collection boxes, trained participating retailers, and returned the collected used bags to a central location. The distributor then shipped the bags to the materials testing location.
Alison Bledsoe, Operations Coordinator at Pet Food Experts, accepted the award. Said Bledsoe, "Thank you for the opportunity. This has been a really exciting experience for the PFX team. To take such an active role in this phase of the project was amazing. It was very eye opening to see the amount of packaging that was collected in such a short time. It is great to see such participation among the entire pet community."
Independent pet retailer Best Friend Nutrition, in Sequim, WA was awarded the "Top Independent Retailer" Earth Hero Award, for collecting the most used packaging from their customers of any individual store. The company was awarded the "Top Independent Retailer" Earth Hero Award. Cynthia Linden, Owner of Best Friend Nutrition accepted the award on behalf of her company. Linden spoke briefly by video: "I just want to thank everyone involved, and the community especially. Being one step small in one direction is a huge direction for the rest."
Washington state multi-store retailer Pet Pros collected the most used bags of any multi-store group in the pilot program. Accepting the award on behalf of Pet Pros was Georgann McConn, General Manager/Controller. It was noted that the Lake Stevens location of Pet Pros collected the second largest amount of packaging after winner Best Friend Nutrition. "This award really belongs to our store teams. I am so proud of how they embraced it, and how our customers embraced it as well. This pilot is a critical and important step for the industry," said McConn.
To learn more about sustainable packaging initiatives at the Pet Sustainability Coalition, visti https://petsustainability.org/sustainable-packaging/
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